Art History

Journal Article – ‘Craft(ing) Narratives: Specimens, Souvenirs and “Morsels” in A la Ronde’s Specimen Table’, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, vol. 31 no. 1, 2018, pp. 77-97

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I couldn’t be more please to announce that my article, ‘Craft(ing) Narratives: Specimens, Souvenirs and “Morsels” in A la Ronde’s Specimen Table‘ is now out in Eighteenth-Century Fiction, as part of a bumper double special issue on ‘Material Fictions‘, edited by Eugenia Zuroski and Michael Yonan. You can read the article here, and my abstract is below.

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Joining the Association For Art History’s Doctoral and Early Career Researcher Network Project Board

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I’m thrilled to be joining the Association For Art History Doctoral and Early Career Researcher Network Project Board as an Early Career Representative.

The Doctoral & Early Career Research (DECR) network provides a support system and platform for current doctoral researchers and those within 5 years of receiving their doctorate. The network is coordinated by a Project Board which  oversees and organises the Association for Art History’s doctoral and early career research events and initiatives.

The Project Board is made of 12-15 people at different stages in their research career who are based across the UK. The board meets 4 times a year and organises the annual two day Summer Symposium, one day New Voices conference, Careers Day for art history and has responsibility for shortlisting the undergraduate and postgraduate Dissertation Prizes.

If you have any ideas for how the Association could better support doctoral and early career scholars, please get in touch with me via email or twitter.

Abstract for Text, Artefact, Identity: Horace Walpole and the Queer Eighteenth Century (15-16 February, 2019)

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I’m thrilled that my paper ‘Inheriting Strawberry Hill: Shared Practices and Shared Spaces’ has been accepted for next year’s conference Text, Artefact, Identity: Horace Walpole and the Queer Eighteenth Century. The conference brings together scholars and curators from the disciplines of Literature, Cultural History, Art and Architectural History, and Heritage to investigate LGBTQ perspectives on the ‘long’ eighteenth century. The abstract for my paper is included below.

Inheriting Strawberry Hill: Shared Practices and Shared Spaces

This paper will examine Anne Seymour Damer’s brief inheritance and ownership of Horace Walpole’s home Strawberry Hill, following his death in 1797. Although much of the scholarship on the house to date has focused on the design and decoration of Walpole’s gothic-revival edifice, comparatively little research has been conducted on the significance of Damer’s acquisition of the property. Building upon the extensive body of literature on Walpole and sexuality, this paper shifts focus to consider his relationship with Damer, another figure whose sexual orientation has been the subject of intense speculation. Positing Damer’s inheritance of Strawberry Hill as Walpole’s attempt at creating a queer familial legacy for his home, the paper situates this transaction in relation to the interconnected contexts of ownership and loss, emotion and materiality. Alongside a consideration of Damer’s inheritance of Strawberry Hill, which will be identified as a shared space enjoyed by both her and Walpole, the paper will also examine the pair’s shared practices revolving around the house, specifically their coactive extra-illustration of copies of Walpole’s A Description of the Villa of Mr. Horace Walpole (1784). In so doing, the paper will demonstrate the centrality of the relationship between materiality, queer sociability, and emotion in our understanding of both Strawberry Hill and the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century home more broadly.

Abstract for Constructions of Love and the Emotions of Intimacy, 1750-1850 (9 February, 2019)

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Serena Reading, by James Hopwood Sr, published by Vernor, Hood & Sharpe, after George Romney
stipple engraving, published 1 October 1811 5 7/8 in. x 3 7/8 in. (148 mm x 99 mm) paper size. National Portrait Gallery.

I’m hugely excited that my paper ‘‘Pledges of an highly-prized friendship’: Anna Seward, Portraiture, and the Poetics of Exchange’ was accepted for the 2019 conference, Constructions of Love and the Emotions of Intimacy, 1750-1850, which examines the roles love and intimacy played in interpersonal relationships throughout this period. My abstract is included below.

‘Pledges of an highly-prized friendship’: Anna Seward, Portraiture, and the Poetics of Exchange

This paper unpacks the complex networks of emotional, artistic, and poetic exchange that surrounded a highly emotional portrait-object: a printed version of George Romney’s painting Serena given to Lady Eleanor Butler (1739-1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1831)—the so-called ‘Ladies of Llangollen’—by the poet Anna Seward (1742-1809). Seward identified the image as a ‘perfect similitude’ of her deceased step-sister Honora Sneyd, so much so that the print played an active role in Seward’s commemoration of their lost friendship. Like Butler and Ponsonby’s own infamous ‘romantic friendship’, Seward and Sneyd enjoyed an intensely close and deeply affectionate relationship that flouted social norms, with both Sneyd’s marriage to Richard Edgeworth in 1751, and her eventual death in 1780, devastating the poet. Discussing both Seward’s copy of the print, as well as Butler and Ponsonby’s facsimile, the paper places the image within two contexts: firstly, in relation to Seward’s volume of poetry Llangollen Vale with Other Poems (1796), a sentimentalising series of verses dedicated to Seward’s intimate relationships with Butler, Ponsonby, and Sneyd; and secondly, within an intricate display of gifted portraits at Plas Newydd, Butler and Ponsonby’s home at Llangollen in Wales. Using methodologies from the history of the emotions, material culture studies, and queer theory, it will demonstrate the image’s deep embedment within Seward’s emotional and creative consciousness: on the one hand, allowing Seward to actively ruminate and comment upon her close connections with Sneyd, Butler, and Ponsonby; and on the other, functioning within a dynamic web of literary, material, and loving gestures enacted between Seward and her friends.

Abstract for Reading the Country House (16-17 November, 2018)

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I’m excited to be presenting my paper ‘Publishing Wilkes’s ‘Villakin’: Reading, Reception and Reputation at Sandown Cottage’ at the forthcoming Reading the Country House conference, to be held at MMU in November. The conference focuses on the ways in which the country house was ‘made to be read’, whether through the legibility of their decorative schemes or their description in published materials. My abstract for the conference is included below.

Publishing Wilkes’s ‘Villakin’: Reading, Reception and Reputation at Sandown Cottage

This paper unpacks a complex episode in the relationship between interior decoration, travel writing, and identity formation in late eighteenth-century Britain. Examining John Wilkes’s summer residence Sandown Cottage (commonly known as ‘Villakin’) on the Isle of Wight, it provides an unprecedented consideration of the aesthetic programme of Wilkes’s country home and its role in constructing and reflecting its owner’s multifarious identities. Focusing on published accounts of Sandown Cottage, it situates descriptions of Wilkes’s home within the contexts of taste, sociability, and domestic tourism, highlighting the centrality of visual and material culture within these texts. Describing the residence as fitted up ‘with every regard and attention to elegance,’ such accounts consistently related the house’s ornamentation to Wilkes’s becoming personal qualities. This paper will accordingly consider how the publication and circulation of Sandown Cottage’s collections and decoration in contemporary travel writing functioned as a kind of reputation management; neutralising Wilkes’s radical politics and instead facilitating his self-presentation as a consummately refined host and tasteful art collector. Discussing a broad variety of visual and material culture and its representation, the paper challenges divisions between the fine and decorative arts, interior and exterior spaces, and between the material object and the written word more broadly.

Book Review: Heather McPherson, Art and Celebrity in the Age of Reynolds and Siddons.

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My review of Heather McPherson’s 2017 book Art and Celebrity in the Age of Reynolds and Siddons is now available online as an early view copy from the Journal of Eighteenth-Century Studies. Check it out here.

My picks for the Association for Art History’s 2018 Annual Conference

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I’m currently in London for the Association for Art History’s 2018 Annual Conference, which is being held between the Courtauld Institute and King’s College London from tomorrow until Saturday. As ever, I’m struggling to whittle down the panels I want to go to, so I thought I’d post my long list of recommendations for sessions. Also, if you’re at the conference, come and say hi!

Thursday 5th April, 2018:

Contemporary Art Histories

Convened by Sam Rose and Emalee Beddoes, this panel promises a fascinating examination of both the role of contemporary art in writing art history, and what contemporary art histories look like. This particularly appeals to me due to a couple of case studies for my collage project, which actively use modern/postmodern art historical ideas to rethink the art of the past. Highlights from this session include papers on Giotto and Kauffman through a contemporary lens.

HIV in Visual Culture: Looking to interdisiplinary approaches & global histories

Neil MacDonald and Jackson Davidow’s session HIV in Visual Culture, provides a transnational, institutional history of the artistic and cultural production associated with the pandemic. I’m particularly keen to hear the papers dealing with HIV/AIDS in the archive.

Textility

Mechthild Fend and Anne Lafont’s panel, Textility, is probably the one I’ll go to tomorrow. Dealing with the relatively new theoretical framework of ‘textility’, the session examines the technologies of textiles, intersections with other art forms, and hierarchies. Highlights include Marcia Pointon’s paper (Marcia Pointon is always a highlight, tbh), copper smithing, and lamé.

 

Friday 6th April, 2018

Beyond Disciplinary Boundaries: History of Science and History of Art

This roundtable, hosted by Katy Barrett, Sachiko Kusukawa, Alexander Marr, Sietske Fransen, Katherine Reinhart, and Joanna Woodall comes out of the AHRC-funded project, ‘Making Visible: the visual and graphic practices of the early Royal Society’. The session abstract talks about the specific relevance of such an interdisciplinary approach for the early modern period, particularly in terms of histories of collecting. This should be a really fascinating discussion.

Dialogues: Things and their collectors

Nicole Cochrane, Lizzie Rogers, & Charlotte Johnson’s panel, Dialogues: Things and their collectors, is where you’re likely to find me on Friday. I couldn’t be more excited for all the mourning, ruins, and ceramics.

 

Saturday 7th April, 2018

Dangerous Portraits in the Early Modern World

Jennifer Germann and Melissa Percival’s session on dangerous portraits promises a fascinating reassessment of the genre. Topics include radical, mutinous, painful, and colonial portraiture.

Seeing and Hearing the ‘Beyond’: Art, music and mysticism in the Long 19th Century

My second pick for Saturday is Michelle Foot and Corrinne Chong’s panel, on the interrelationship between art, music, and mysticism between 1789 and 1918. Crossing artistic, disciplinary, and geographical boundaries, the papers ask what testing these distinctions might tell us about nineteenth-century spiritualism.